Bloodlines Presented By Caracaro: Patience Paid Off For Liam’s Map, Colonel Liam

At the tail end of his stud career, Unbridled’s Song (by Unbridled) sired two of his very best performers, both multiple Grade 1 winners: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map and champion Arrogate (Breeders’ Cup Classic, Travers, Pegasus World Cup, and Dubai World Cup).

The challenge thrown down to both those exceptional performers when they went to stud was that, despite their sire’s excellent record of 117 stakes winners and numerous top-class performers, none of his sons had become a top stallion.

Breeders hate to see that. It gives them the feeling that something is going wrong that they can’t quite see.

Nor can breeders ignore horses of such unquenchable talent as Liam’s Map and Arrogate.

A horse of such high speed that he was very reminiscent of his famous sire, Liam’s Map got off to a fast start at stud. In 2019, the stallion’s first-crop racers Basin won the Grade 1 Hopeful and Wicked Whisper won the G1 Frizette.

Neither was able to improve that form in subsequent starts, but they were clearly talented. So was their sire.

Liam’s Map, however, was unraced at two, then was very lightly raced at three, winning three of his four starts, including the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. The following season, Liam’s Map also won three of four, but his victories included the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Woodward, both Grade 1s. In the G1 Whitney at Saratoga, Liam’s Map ran a brilliant race, leading all the way through swift fractions (:22.79, :46, 1:09.72, 1:34.66, 1:47.82) and getting nailed in the last jump by the immensely talented Honor Code, the last top racer by A.P. Indy.

An $800,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by St. Elias Stables, Liam’s Map had all the right parts in all the right places, but pushing on him did not seem unduly wise to the patient ownership. As a result, the son of Unbridled’s Song was able to grow into his frame and harden his bone to cope with the exceptional speed he possessed.

When the grand-looking gray finished his racing career with six victories in eight starts and earnings of more than $1.3 million when he finished racing for Teresa Viola Racing Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, Liam’s Map was a serious stallion prospect and entered stud in 2016 at Lane’s End Farm.

Patience paid off.

With the obvious benefits of a racing profile slanted toward maturity, one might have expected that owners would have followed suit with the stallion’s offspring. That pattern is, however, contrary to general human nature and to the desire to strike a vein of gold when one sees it.

Because, do not doubt it, many of the offspring of Liam’s Map have real talent. They are fast and athletic; frequently they will show these traits early.

The stats for the sire, however, indicate that pushing early is perhaps not the best path to follow. The stats indicate that there is a considerable rate of attrition for striking too early with these talented youngsters.

The gold star for patient handling among the Liam’s Map stock goes to Colonel Liam, who won his third Grade 1 in the Pegasus Turf at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. Bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership, Colonel Liam was unraced at two; then won three of five at three, including the Tropical Park Derby; won three of four last year at four, including the G1 Pegasus Turf at Gulfstream and the Turf Classic at Churchill. The horse’s second Pegasus Turf was his 2022 debut.

From a tremendous and historic female family nurtured at Darby Dan Farm, where Colonel Liam was bred and raised, the gray horse is the first stakes winner out of the Bernardini mare Amazement, a daughter of two-time Grade 1 winner Wonder Again (Silver Hawk).

Wonder Again was one of two top-class performers out of the Danzig mare Ameriflora. The other was Wonder Again’s full brother Grass Wonder, who won nine of 14 starts in Japan, where he was the champion 2-year-old colt and earned nearly $6 million.

Third dam Ameriflora was a full sister to Grade 1 winner Tribulation, and this is a family that goes even farther back in the history of Darby Dan.

Daniel Galbreath purchased the seventh dam, the fleet racemare Skylarking (Mirza), from the Aly Khan and imported her to Kentucky, where she has had a lasting effect on the breed.

Colonel Liam is the latest of these, and he started his public exposure quietly enough, selling for $50,000 to Waves Bloodstock at the 2018 Keeneland September sale. Brought to sale the following spring at the OBS April auction of juveniles in training, Colonel Liam worked a quarter-mile in :20 4/5, and Robert and Lawana Low paid $1.2 million to bring home the gray from the Wavertree consignment.

To date, Colonel Liam has earned $1.8 million and is shining a light on the benefits of patient handling for racing stock from this line.

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